Film SLR 35 mm help

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#1
I would really appreciate all your help in a choice of camera. I want to go back to film. I considered medium format but don't want the aggravation of the size of camera and tripod to make the most of the format. This leaves me with 35 mm.

1) The camera should be reliable and able to be repaired if it fails
2) I am happy with fully manual. I can accept light metering, AP, SP but am not interested in an electronic behemoth. It is not the type of photography I enjoy (or have enjoyed!).
3) I don't mind rangefinder but exchangeable lenses is a must and I cannot afford an M series Leica.

So for general usability/convenience/cost I am probably looking at an SLR

1) Best optics for the money (obviously). Most likely to buy primes.
2) Budget for body up to £350 but £250 ideal. Lenses I will just have to buy when I can afford.

I have always wanted a Leica so was considering an R6. It looks like I could pick up a body for about £350 but lenses look crazy expensive. Am I crazy though, does it give me nothing (even optics) that a cheaper option does not?

Now I know there are good options out there; Canon F1, Contax F2b, Minolta X-570, olympus om-4T, Pentax LX etc

So please, what do you think is the best combo of value for money with available quality glass. It might be too close to call among a handful of course. In which case, what should I avoid?

Thanks for your help, I have spent a long time on the internet reading but could really appreciate some advice
 
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#2
How about a Canon A1? You'll probably find one in full working order for around £100 to £120 in Excellent+ to Mint- condition with 50mm f/1.8 lens (add another £20 to £40 for the f1.4 version if bought with camera body) from a reputable dealer with at least some warranty. Check it over and if you like it then perhaps treat it to a service, or clean, lubricate and adjust (CLA) as it's known, and get the light seals and mirror buffer foam replaced if they've not been done already. We know some good, fairly priced camera technicians that would probably do that for around £80 to £100 inc. postage, providing it doesn't need any replacement parts.

Like the F1, the A1 takes the manual focus Canon FD lenses (not EF or EFS autofocus ones), of which there should still be some good ones around at reasonable prices. The A1 can also shoot in full auto exposure (Programme) mode if required, as well as shutter speed priority, aperture priority and stopped down AE, plus full manual. I think it's probably the best bang for buck for a manual focus 35mm SLR, and there were plenty of them made, which means spares should be available for a few years to come, if only from old, cannibalised, non-working donor cameras.

The F1 was a pro spec camera, so most of them will probably have been used professionally to some extent or other; so, of the two, I think you'll probably stand more chance of finding a mint-ish A1 in full working order without too much wear on it. Hope this is useful and best of luck choosing what's best for you. (y) No doubt some Nikon fans will be along shortly to tell you how wonderful some of those are! ;)
 
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AnimalBones
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#3
That is very helpful advice, thank you. I’ll have a look around to see what’s available at the usual big and not so big stores along this line.

Great price with the lens so I’ll like be able to afford others if I go with this
 
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#4
That is very helpful advice, thank you. I’ll have a look around to see what’s available at the usual big and not so big stores along this line.

Great price with the lens so I’ll like be able to afford others if I go with this
Before you go on a spending spree, be aware that film kit (whilst there may be a recent general trend for rising prices) may not be as expensive as you think. So feel free to 'ask the audience' if you see something you like and I'm sure the F&C regulars will let you know if they think the price is about right (and perhaps whether or not we think the dealer/shop is one we would return to).

Above all, don't rush in... with Brexit looming I don't think there's much of a buying frenzy for 'toys' at the moment, so I doubt we're going to run out of good, affordable 35mm SLRs in the next 6 months or so. As the saying goes: act in haste, repent at leisure! (y)

P.S.
I know you mentioned you weren't keen on an electronic SLR, but If you already have a Canon DSLR and some EF (not FD or EF-S, which won't fit) lenses, then maybe a 35mm EOS camera might be worth looking at? Something like a Canon EOS 30 would give you a very similar handling (and looking) camera to a modern EOS DSLR, with up to 4 frames per second auto wind, a modern type metal blind shutter with 1/4000 sec top speed, and the ability to use modern Canon EF lenses, including the image stabilised ones. It would also give you a 35 zone metering system and 7 point eye-controlled focus system (whereby you look at the focus point in the viewfinder and the camera will automatically select it - yes, really, as it tracks your eyeball to see where you're looking!). It's also quite compact, light and one of the quietest 35mm auto-wind SLRs I've ever used.

All that, and an EOS 30 can be found in full working order for between around £40 and £70 (on average, for body only) in Excellent+ to Mint- on eBay (check the completed items to see what they've been selling for lately). The EOS 30 can still be repaired (as long as parts are available and it's not cheaper to buy another one that works!) and I find mine gives very nice looking results. To be honest, I think that's probably the most cost effective and practical way into good-quality 35mm film SLR photography if you already have some Canon EF lenses and the 'vintage' look and manual film winding isn't important to you.

So there you go... some more research and review reading to do, and a bit more thinking before you press the 'buy' button. Once again, hope this is useful and best of luck choosing the right camera. :)

Oh, and one final warning, once you get bitten by the film bug it seldom stays at just one camera! :facepalm: :runaway:
 
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#5
Would the budget stretch to a used Nikon FM3? Manual / auto options, fairly rugged, light and neat, with access to a huge range of sparkling Ai and Ai-s MF Nikkors ...

Failing that, an FM2n ...
 
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#6
Would the budget stretch to a used Nikon FM3? Manual / auto options, fairly rugged, light and neat, with access to a huge range of sparkling Ai and Ai-s MF Nikkors ...

Failing that, an FM2n ...
I think FM3 are quite expensive, probably over his budget. Even FM2n are quite pricey. Of course they are very good cameras so if he gets a good deal......
 
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AnimalBones
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#8
Before you go on a spending spree, be aware that film kit (whilst there may be a recent general trend for rising prices) may not be as expensive as you think. So feel free to 'ask the audience' if you see something you like and I'm sure the F&C regulars will let you know if they think the price is about right (and perhaps whether or not we think the dealer/shop is one we would return to).

Above all, don't rush in... with Brexit looming I don't think there's much of a buying frenzy for 'toys' at the moment, so I doubt we're going to run out of good, affordable 35mm SLRs in the next 6 months or so. As the saying goes: act in haste, repent at leisure! (y)

P.S.
I know you mentioned you weren't keen on an electronic SLR, but If you already have a Canon DSLR and some EF (not FD or EF-S, which won't fit) lenses, then maybe a 35mm EOS camera might be worth looking at? Something like a Canon EOS 30 would give you a very similar handling (and looking) camera to a modern EOS DSLR, with up to 4 frames per second auto wind, a modern type metal blind shutter with 1/4000 sec top speed, and the ability to use modern Canon EF lenses, including the image stabilised ones. It would also give you a 35 zone metering system and 7 point eye-controlled focus system (whereby you look at the focus point in the viewfinder and the camera will automatically select it - yes, really, as it tracks your eyeball to see where you're looking!). It's also quite compact, light and one of the quietest 35mm auto-wind SLRs I've ever used.

All that, and an EOS 30 can be found in full working order for between around £40 and £70 (on average, for body only) in Excellent+ to Mint- on eBay (check the completed items to see what they've been selling for lately). The EOS 30 can still be repaired (as long as parts are available and it's not cheaper to buy another one that works!) and I find mine gives very nice looking results. To be honest, I think that's probably the most cost effective and practical way into good-quality 35mm film SLR photography if you already have some Canon EF lenses and the 'vintage' look and manual film winding isn't important to you.

So there you go... some more research and review reading to do, and a bit more thinking before you press the 'buy' button. Once again, hope this is useful and best of luck choosing the right camera.

Oh, and one final warning, once you get bitten by the film bug it seldom stays at just one camera! :facepalm: :runaway:
My wife had an EOS 30 back in the day. Ended up in a cupboard and we sold it (about three years ago). Happy days when we had money! It was a fabulous camera when we got it new, mind blowing at the time because I was still lugging an OM10 around
 
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#10
I have to recommend Pentax. The LX is a lovely camera to use with various viewfinder options and a very wide range of glass available, much of it very good. I have two LX's (along with a bunch of other models in PK and M42 mounts), both cost me circa £250-300, both have been CLA'd for about £90 each, so that I have excellent cameras, relatively small and light whilst being metal and solid, and I've been able to collect a range of Takumar lenses at 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50/55mm, 135mm, 70-210mm and a 400mm, paying between £30 and £80 in each case off eBay, with lens servicing also available as necessary.
 
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#11
I'd be more inclined to decide based on what lenses you want/can afford, then choose a body to fit. Since you're plainly not interested in AF-era models, compared with more recent digital cameras 35mm film cameras are very simple devices with uncomplicated handling. The biggest choice I'd think would be between full mechanical and those with some electronics built in to offer metering and shutter. All the things that make film cameras more versatile (like spot metering, motor drive etc) require substantial electronic involvement.

If small size is important then I'd look at Olympus and Pentax.
If full mechanical system is important then I'd look at Nikon FM~ and Pentax MX series cameras.
If widest lens availability/compatibility is important then I'd look at Nikon cameras.
If lower lens cost is important then I'd look at Minolta.
I'm not a Canon buff, so don't know of any reasons to recommend or avoid them.

When I wanted to return to film with a 35mm SLR earlier this year, I picked up a Nikon because I already had a bunch of manual focus lenes that would fit, however I'd have been happy with a Pentax, Oly or Minolta too.

These guys are helpful & have a good range used: https://wycameras.com/
 
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#12
Local charity shops are the place to look for film cameras. In the last few years I've bought various Canon cameras very cheaply: a FTb with the f1.8/50 for £16, an AE-1 with a Vivitar 28-85 for £12, an Eos 500 with the 28-80 for £10 and a FT-QL body for £10. You have to search and it will probably take time but there are some tremendous bargains out there...

Canon 5D 8609.jpg
 
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#13
I think FM3 are quite expensive, probably over his budget. Even FM2n are quite pricey. Of course they are very good cameras so if he gets a good deal......
The FM and FE are still pretty well priced. FM2 aren't too bad either, FM2 with 50mm 1.8 for £289
https://wycameras.com/collections/nikon-mf-cameras/products/nikon-fm2-chrome-w-50mm-f-1-8-exc

Hard to go wrong with the FM series really if you want mechanical. Three lens kit is relatively cheap (28 or 35 f2.8, 50 f1.8, 135 f3.5), the MD12 winder is cheap and plentiful, and the base FM has 1/125s flash sync vs 1/60 of the Olympus om-1 and Pentax MX.

If you're wise/lucky with your purchasing I reckon you could get a FM, three lens kit, MD12 and flash for OP's stated budget.
 
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AnimalBones
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#14
The FM and FE are still pretty well priced. FM2 aren't too bad either, FM2 with 50mm 1.8 for £289
https://wycameras.com/collections/nikon-mf-cameras/products/nikon-fm2-chrome-w-50mm-f-1-8-exc

Hard to go wrong with the FM series really if you want mechanical. Three lens kit is relatively cheap (28 or 35 f2.8, 50 f1.8, 135 f3.5), the MD12 winder is cheap and plentiful, and the base FM has 1/125s flash sync vs 1/60 of the Olympus om-1 and Pentax MX.

If you're wise/lucky with your purchasing I reckon you could get a FM, three lens kit, MD12 and flash for OP's stated budget.
The FM2 is looking like a very attractive option right now. Good price. Rugged, pro quality, wide availability of lenses, runs battery free.

I am guessing Wy counts as a quality vendor (alongside LCE, ffordes etc). Would you always recommend a clean, even if graded as excellent?
 
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#15
The FM2 is looking like a very attractive option right now. Good price. Rugged, pro quality, wide availability of lenses, runs battery free.

I am guessing Wy counts as a quality vendor (alongside LCE, ffordes etc). Would you always recommend a clean, even if graded as excellent?
I've only bought one cheaper camera from them, but it was a very pleasant experience and they included a hand-written note wishing me enjoyment with the camera. *Personally* I'd probably wait until I had trouble, but it might be kinder for a 30 YO piece of mechanical kit - I suspect the condition won't reflect the lubrication situation.
 
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#16
The FM2 is looking like a very attractive option right now. Good price. Rugged, pro quality, wide availability of lenses, runs battery free.

I am guessing Wy counts as a quality vendor (alongside LCE, ffordes etc). Would you always recommend a clean, even if graded as excellent?
Their definition of Exc condition is "Exc : Good used condition - what you might expect from a used item. Some signs of use, but fully working. ", and they back this up with a 3 month warranty, so I wouldn't be expecting it to need a clean in the next few months.
 
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#17
I would be looking at a Pentax K1000 purely for the reason that many of these cameras will be 30+ years old and there'll be more chance of things being wrong particularly metering.

Canon A1 or AE-1 is another option.
 

Asha

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#18
I think if I was to be on the return to film photograohy and be restricted to 35mm format and only one outfit then I would opt for a Nikon FE2 with either a 50mm or ( for me personally) a 35mm prime lens?
A cheap set up with excellent metering capabilities, Auto aperture priority or full manual mdes vailable and an absolute doddle to use with all controls being very much to hand and uncomplicated.
 
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#19
I've been looking at film cameras ro replace my prakticka, but it's what do you determine as being a decent and either a cracking deal, or being ripped off!

So far looking around, I keep coming back to Nikon, but then you hit lenses which fit which cameras, I know Canon Lenses (got several Canon digitals). but thrown by the Auto focus v Manual focus. Can the lenses fit all Nikon with the only effect, you put an auto/newer lens on a manual focus or film camera, you're be restricted to manual!

As I've seen several nice looking Nikon bodies but then worry about buying the right lens that fits/works with that particular film camera! or could I nick some of my hubbies newer lenses!
 

Asha

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#20
I don’t have a link to hand but there are compatibility charts readily available online concerning Nikon lenses.
Just google Nikon lens compatibility
 
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#22
I've been looking at film cameras ro replace my prakticka, but it's what do you determine as being a decent and either a cracking deal, or being ripped off!

So far looking around, I keep coming back to Nikon, but then you hit lenses which fit which cameras, I know Canon Lenses (got several Canon digitals). but thrown by the Auto focus v Manual focus. Can the lenses fit all Nikon with the only effect, you put an auto/newer lens on a manual focus or film camera, you're be restricted to manual!

As I've seen several nice looking Nikon bodies but then worry about buying the right lens that fits/works with that particular film camera! or could I nick some of my hubbies newer lenses!
If you've got several Canon EF (full frame type) lenses then do have a look at the Canon EOS 30 film camera. As I said above, it's a lot of camera for the price they currently sell for. Plus, they're fairly compact, light and quiet for an auto-wind film camera. I also have a Canon EOS-3 (which I've owned from new and is a fantastic camera) but I use my EOS 30 more because it does most of what the 3 does and it's smaller and lighter!

That's the great thing about Canon EOS 35mm film SLRs (especially the ones from the last of the film era), they should work fully with all the Canon EF lenses (not the EF-S crop body lenses though!), so there's no confusion like Nikon. Buy something like an EOS 30 and you can put the latest Canon EF L IS lenses on it and it should work fine... so you get the best of both worlds, particularly if you already have some Canon EF lenses to use. :)
 
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#24
If I was looking for a 35mm pre-AF body, it would be a Nikon because several of my Nikon AF lenses still have proper aperture rings and can be manually focussed. Being mainly relatively (or extremely!) wide angles, focus accuracy at f/5.6 or smaller isn't too critical so the slightly less precise/fine focussing offered by the shorter throw of AF lenses wouldn't be a problem. Older AF F mount lenses can be had relatively cheaply at the moment (although "relatively" and "cheaply" are rather subjective terms...)
 
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#25
I know Canon Lenses (got several Canon digitals). but thrown by the Auto focus v Manual focus.

could I nick some of my hubbies newer lenses!
If you have access to full frame (EF) Canon lenses, I'd certainly stick with Canon in the first instance to see how you get on. You can buy an EOS 50E for as little as £35 from West Yorkshire Cameras, and they also have an Exc+ one at £49 and Mr Badger's preferred EOS 30 at £99.
https://wycameras.com/collections/canon-ef-cameras/products/canon-eos-50e-body-exc
https://wycameras.com/collections/canon-ef-cameras/products/canon-eos-30-body-exc
 
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#26
With Nikon, if it has an aperture ring it will work with most film bodies with varying degrees of automation. Having the little bracket on the ring will give compatibility with a greater range of older cameras. The only f mount lenses that won't work are G versions with electronic aperture control.
 
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#27
The FM2 is looking like a very attractive option right now. Good price. Rugged, pro quality, wide availability of lenses, runs battery free.

I am guessing Wy counts as a quality vendor (alongside LCE, ffordes etc). Would you always recommend a clean, even if graded as excellent?
Yup, would recommend WYC alongside Ffordes. Harrison Cameras are also pretty good. So much so I tend to wait now for those three to get something in rather than taking a chance on ebay.
I also like Aperture in London, although their prices are slightly higher than the others. Greys of Westminster is also excellent for Nikon (and their shop is an experience), but their prices are higher still.

Anything from those mentioned shouldn't need a CLA for a while. I bought a Nikon FE from WYC and a Canon P from Ffordes last year and they're both trucking along without issue
 
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Asha

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#28
That looks easy to understand... for Leonardo perhaps! :LOL: On the other hand: Canon EOS SLR (35mm film or digital) + Canon EF lens = it should work fully, including the image stabilisation (IS) if the lens has it! ;)
Best stick with canon then if Leonardo isn’t available to help explain to us mere mortals how to read a fairly straightforward compatibility chart.
That is one of many and possibly not the best laid out ......I only posted it as an example and to show that such info is available on the net!
 
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#29
If you have access to full frame (EF) Canon lenses, I'd certainly stick with Canon in the first instance to see how you get on. You can buy an EOS 50E for as little as £35 from West Yorkshire Cameras, and they also have an Exc+ one at £49 and Mr Badger's preferred EOS 30 at £99.
https://wycameras.com/collections/canon-ef-cameras/products/canon-eos-50e-body-exc
https://wycameras.com/collections/canon-ef-cameras/products/canon-eos-30-body-exc
EOS 30s tend to go for anywhere between around £40 and £80 on eBay, and as they're from near the end of the 'film era' a lot of people made the switch to digital soon after buying one, so there should be plenty of lightly used ones in Excellent+ to Mint- condition still around. Don't be confused by the cheaper EOS 33, which comes without the eye-controlled focus system, which I find works very well and is worth the £10 or £20 extra.

The 30 was quite a popular camera so you shouldn't have to wait too long to find a nice one, and with PayPal and buyer's protection on eBay it's probably worth considering buying off there, checking the sellers feedback is OK first though! I wouldn't go paying £100 for one 'body only' from a dealer while they can be found for around half that with a bit of patience on the bay. And no, I don't want to sell one of the two I own. :)

The slightly improved and more recent EOS 30v (one of the last 35mm SLRs Canon made) goes for a lot more money though, with around £150+ for a mintish one being usual. Mainly due to collector's 'rarity value' I think, as there's not much difference in spec or the results, unless you desperately want ETTL II flash compatibility and a backlight on the LCD display panel.
 
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#30
I would really appreciate all your help in a choice of camera. I want to go back to film. I considered medium format but don't want the aggravation of the size of camera and tripod to make the most of the format. This leaves me with 35 mm.

1) The camera should be reliable and able to be repaired if it fails
2) I am happy with fully manual. I can accept light metering, AP, SP but am not interested in an electronic behemoth. It is not the type of photography I enjoy (or have enjoyed!).
3) I don't mind rangefinder but exchangeable lenses is a must and I cannot afford an M series Leica.

So for general usability/convenience/cost I am probably looking at an SLR
Once you have narrowed down your list, it's worth checking eBay. If you set your postcode before searching, and Sort as Distance: Nearest first, you'll get all the cameras closest to you. They'll be under Electronics -> Cameras & Photography Equipment -> Film Photography Equipment -> Film Cameras. With a bit of luck, you should be able to meet up with the seller and see the camera they're selling.
 
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#32
Here you go, how could a film photographer not fall in love with at least one of these two? :)

Canon A1 and FD 50mm f/1.4 and EOS 30 with EF 40mm f/2.8.
<snip>
I find the Canon EOS film cameras rather soulless.I am not disputing their technical qualities (I am rather impressed by the eye controlled focusing of my EOS 5 and EOS 50) and they do produce nice pictures, but I would much rather use one of my more primitive Pentaxes.
 
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AnimalBones
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#33
Once you have narrowed down your list, it's worth checking eBay. If you set your postcode before searching, and Sort as Distance: Nearest first, you'll get all the cameras closest to you. They'll be under Electronics -> Cameras & Photography Equipment -> Film Photography Equipment -> Film Cameras. With a bit of luck, you should be able to meet up with the seller and see the camera they're selling.
Yes, this is a good idea, at least you can check the thing works. I would always advise people buying on eBay to use PayPal rather than cash on collection, however, so you get some buyers protection
 
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#35
Aged like fine wine on the left
It's been with me since 1980 when I bought it new, touch wood everything works and it still takes nice looking photos, such as this with a Canon 35-70 FD f/4 zoom I bought for about £35. As the saying goes, there's many a good tune played on an old fiddle!

 
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#36
Best stick with canon then if Leonardo isn’t available to help explain to us mere mortals how to read a fairly straightforward compatibility chart.
That is one of many and possibly not the best laid out ......I only posted it as an example and to show that such info is available on the net!
Nikon's compatibility is in some respects very impressive, and in others a bit of a dog's breakfast. Something like the FM can use just about any Nikon lens with an aperture ring, from the pre-1977 'pre-AI' lenses (with stop-down metering), through the AI manual focus lenses (with open aperture metering), to the earlier AF and AF-D lenses (obviously without AF!). Later autofocus lenses (G and E) that lack aperture rings, and a few oddities like fisheyes with protruding rear elements, aren't compatible, but that still means nearly all the lenses introduced in the last four decades of the 20th century will work, including some still in the catalogue. The more recent FM-2 isn't compatible with the old pre-AI lenses, but will work with all the others the FM can take.

The really complicated compatibility issues arise with the AF cameras. Individual film or digital cameras may not support one or more of AF-S, AF/AF-D, AF-P, G or E (in fact no film cameras support AF-P or E, though I think all film cameras support AF/AF-D).
 
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#38
The FM2 is looking like a very attractive option right now. Good price. Rugged, pro quality, wide availability of lenses, runs battery free.

I am guessing Wy counts as a quality vendor (alongside LCE, ffordes etc). Would you always recommend a clean, even if graded as excellent?
The FM 2 was famous for shutter problems. The blades would fall to pieces, I've had two fail on one job, and another a week later, just about every one we had (lots) ended up failing at one time or other.
 

Asha

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#39
The FM 2 was famous for shutter problems. The blades would fall to pieces, I've had two fail on one job, and another a week later, just about every one we had (lots) ended up failing at one time or other.
I had an FM for years with no probs, similarly FE and FE2.
I never had the FM2 but a little surprised to hear of your bad experiences......perhaps you simply fell unlucky with the bodies that you had?
 

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#40
Of course Olympus OM series and Pentax are other options..... typically nice and small outfits.
I enjoyed the Pentax MX iirc that was the model) which was basically fully manual as opposed to the ME that I really could not get on with due to it being so automated.
Nonetheless I still found myself being most comfortable with the FE2 but of course we all relate to different cameras in different ways.
My advice to the OP is to find what really feels right both ergonomically and functionally. If not it’s a bit like riding a bike that is a tad too large..... possible to do but never a really comfortable journey!
 
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